A CR officer apologised to the public yesterday, four days after she rejected an RTI query because it was framed in Marathi. Following a protest by the MNS at CST, she issued a written apology claiming it was a “human error”.
Swati Sinha, deputy chief commercial manager (claims) and assistant public information at CR, apologised for the letter and said she had signed it without reading it properly
Insult to injury
On June 22, petitioner Subhash Jagtap — an advocate from Mulund — had sent an RTI query to CR, asking, among other things, why the railways only printed tickets in Hindi and English but not Marathi.
The CR official’s reply stated that since the RTI application had been written in Marathi it could not be understood. It suggested that the request be made again in English or Hindi
The response he received on August 20 only hurt his Maharashtrian pride further: the letter from CR stated that since his request had been made in Marathi, it could not be understood and had hence been rejected.
Signed by Swati Sinha, deputy chief commercial manager (claims) and assistant public information officer, the letter asked that the request be made again in English or Hindi. Ironically, the very same letter also cited Rule 6 of the RTI Act, according to which a request may be made in English, Hindi or in the official language of the area in which the application is being made – Marathi, in this case.
The letter was widely debated in Mantralaya by various ministers, including opposition leader Radha Krishna Vikhe Patil, who said he would put the issue in front of Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu (who hails from Mumbai). The MNS took up the issue and staged a protest outside CST yesterday.
After mounting criticism of the RTI rejection, yesterday, CR officer Sinha apologised for the letter. “It was a human error and I apologise for it. My clerk had typed the letter and I signed it without reading it properly,” she said, adding that her office had already responded to 100-odd RTI queries in Marathi in the past.
RTI applicant Jagtap told mid-day, “I had asked for details on why tickets are not printe in Marathi, why the Kurla subway had not been opened yet and what had happened to the R80 crore given to railways by the BM for drainage work. I think they did not like my questions and were looking for a way to avoid giving answers.”
This is the second slight to Maharashtra since the railways forgot to advertise vacancies for the post of section engineers in the state. The railways had had to apologise for this error as well, and later posted information about 400 vacancies.
Protest at CST
MNS office bearers Sandeep Deshpande and Sudhir Harshe, along with 70-odd MNS workers, protested outside the office of the CR official at CST, resulting in a written apology from her.
“We protested against the decision of not providing information in Marathi and finally got a written apology from the department. We will not accept any insult to Marathi or Maharashtrians,” said Jeetendra Patil, general secretary of Maharashtra Navnirman Railways Kamgar Sena, who was also at the protest.